2019 Michigan Regional Conference

Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019 – Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

8:00am – 5:00pm


Passing PTSD Legislation in Florida – Geoffrey Bichler, Esq., Bichler & Longo, PLLC

The full impact of PTSD in First Responders was keenly felt following the Pulse Nightclub attack in Orlando.  The need to have both medical and monetary benefits provided under the workers’ compensation system for PTSD was at the center of the 2018 Florida Legislative Session.  Join Attorney Geoff Bichler as he discusses his efforts and the process that resulted in the PTSD bill for First Responders being unanimously passed under workers’ compensation in the State of Florida.

PTSD, Cumulative Trauma, and the Ripple Effect – Nicholas Greco, M.S., B.C.E.T.S., C.A.T.S.M., F.A.A.E.T.S.

PTSD is misunderstood and often overlooked despite its prevalence in the law enforcement community. A common misconception is that first responders have more resiliency than the general population when it comes to traumatic events. Unfortunately, training and time on the job can’t erase the sights, sounds, and outcomes one sees on a daily basis. Many law enforcement officers silently suffer from the cumulative effects of repeated exposure to traumatic events. Many think they are fine and continue on in their careers until one day, one call changes everything. We will explore the lack of closure, the need to move on to the next call for service, and the negative impact that has on the officer. We will discuss the differences between acute stress disorder, PTSD, and cumulative PTSD. We’ll explore how the job not only impacts the individual but the family as well. We’ll provide recommendations on how agencies can train first responders for these types of incidents and promote debriefings of catastrophic incidents, and highlight the importance of being a proactive agency. We will provide recommendations and prevention strategies for coping with and handling stress, both for yourself and others, as well as when to seek help and get appropriate treatment.

Help for Our Heroes – Richard Wistocki and Carlos Farina

The “Help for Our Heroes” training is an up close and personal Conference Breakout session as well as an in-service Training for Fire, Police, Dispatchers, Telecommunicators, Probation, Corrections and Military. This training showcases how First Responders Suffer in Silence and are afraid to ask for help from their employers. This training session will guide and direct the first responder on how to ask for help as well as the employees’ rights to the Federal Medical Leave Act and how it pertains to public service. This will be an in depth look at what First Responder therapy looks like and how to acquire it to lead a successful life. All over the country First Responders are suffering and committing suicide. This training module will not only show the first responder who may be struggling how to ask for help, but also for their partners and supervisors who recognize there may be an issue with PTSS, Mental Health, Gambling, Alcoholism or Drug Abuse.

Building Financial Strength in First Responder Families – Nick Daugherty, Financial Cop

Building Financial Strength in First Responder Families is a Dave Ramsey inspired financial wellness class for first responders, taught by first responders, focusing on building financial strength through proper every dollar budgeting, preparing your family if the worst occurs, the impacts of debt and how to eliminate it quickly and for good, the importance of utilizing our secondary retirement planning, and Dave Ramsey’s famous 7 baby steps to financial freedom.

A First Responder Marriage – Surviving Critical Incidents – Cathy and Javier Bustos, Law Enforcement Peer Counselors, TX

Javier and Cathy are peer support officers for their police departments. Throughout their careers they have experienced many critical Incidents separately and together. On August 18th, 2010 they experienced the trauma of a line of duty death for a fellow officer and friend at Cathy’s police department in Cedar Park, TX. A month later on September 25th, 2010, Javier was in an Officer Involved Shooting in Austin, TX. Cathy & Javier were thrust into a new and changed world. They had to adjust their lives for the “new normal”. These incidents have tested them as individuals and as a married couple. Through trial and error, they have developed a simple system for law enforcement couples to help them survive critical incidents and marriage.

Living with PTS – A Spouses Perspective – Rebecca Sherman, RN

Rebecca is a native of Canada where she completed her MSN in Nursing. Following her graduation, she was recruited by HCA Hospitals in Florida. Over her 27-year nursing career she has provided care in areas of pediatrics, cardiac medical surgical, occupational health with Florida Power and Light, Correctional care with Martin County Sheriff Department, but her passion is in psychiatric and addiction medicine. For the past 14 years Rebecca has been employed with Florida Center for Recovery where she was the Director of Nursing and Supervisor of Utilization Review. Her current role with Florida Center for Recovery is with outreach, education and the First Responder PTS program. She is both a spouse and mother to first responders which is why her heart lies with helping them address their addiction, trauma, and PTS. Rebecca has experienced the journey and struggles of living and surviving marriage with a spouse and first responder diagnosed with symptomatic PTS. Rebecca is also active in mentoring the spouses of first responders and assisting the families through the journey to recovery and wellness.

Changing Our Culture and How We Do Business in Public Safety – Jaysyn J. Carson, Director, Incident Support Services– Fairfax County Police Department

After heartbreaking losses to suicide, the Fairfax County Police Department produced “The Consequences of the Badge.” Officer response to the suicide prevention video engendered designing a survey as a “pulse check” on mental and physical health. The honest and frankly stunning results demanded a proactive response that identified immediate and long-term goals that force changes in the culture while also challenging the stigma of seeking help. After viewing the video, approximately 20 other agencies utilized the survey which captured the responses of almost 5,000 first responders. The comprehensive results, across large and small agencies, further underscores the problems facing the first responder culture and highlights needed changes. This presentation includes: (1) Viewing “The Consequences of the Badge.” (2) Reviewing the changes we are implementing across six areas: Leadership, Training, Wellness, Programs, Policy, and Safety Nets. (3) Discussing the aggregate survey results from all the participating agencies.

Processing Stress and Enhancing Performance – Susan Smedley 

In this presentation attendees will be introduced to the original intention behind the practice of yoga, why it’s beneficial specifically to first responders as well as addressing the misconceptions about yoga and how these misconceptions have isolated the first responder culture from this useful tool. Following this introduction to the “why” and “what” of yoga, attendees will be familiarized with the science of how the nervous system and brain function and is affected by this line work. It will be explained how these effects can either be debilitating, or, by changing the experience of stress enhance abilities and longevity of one’s career as well as fulfillment in life as a whole.

The second half of the training will speak to Yoga For First Responders Protocol specifically, how it’s different than what you’d find at a community yoga class, and how our method is directed to fit into the fabric of first responder culture as well as practical ways to implement this skill set into one’s department and academy immediately. Attendees will then get to experience demo techniques so they can walk away from this presentations with exercises to practice immediately.

My Journey, My Recovery – Leo Petrilli

In this session, former LE officer and peer supporter Leo Petrilli shares his life story, his career, his struggle with addiction, and his road to recovery. Leo will discuss how close he came to ending it all and how he found the will to live. His story is one of courage, honesty, and hope for his fellow brothers and sisters.

Continental breakfast and lunch included.

Sault Ste. Marie Elks Lodge #552 will host a free dinner for all attendees on Wednesday, September 18. There will be a social hour until dinner begins at 6:30 p.m.

Co-Hosted by 1st Responder Conferences

Event Location

Kewadin Hotel and Casino
2186 Shunk Road
Sault Ste. Marie, MI, 49783

Event Fees

Single Admission
$ 95.00